Only the Lonely
Air date: May 3, 1999
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

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The gang has gathered at Ally and Renee's apartment to watch the debut of Elaine's face bra infomercial. We see their reaction as they watch men and women (who are wearing the face bra) discuss how much it has enriched their lives. When it's over, Elaine, excited about the infomercial and how it could change her life, tells everyone, "I don't care how wealthy I get. I will never leave the firm. You people are my life."

In the next day's morning meeting, we learn that Billy and Ling are going to trial on a case involving the head of a software company who is being sued for sexual harassment because he had "Beach Day" at work (the "bathing suit case"). Ally wants to know why all of their cases are about sexual harassment and why all of their clients are the harassers. Billy doesn't take kindly to this. He tells Ally that it's not a sexual harassment case, he wonders why women, no matter what is happening, always feel harassed. "It's you guys that make yourselves out to be the weaker sex," Billy says, "And, by the way, men don't go out and get their breasts done. Men don't obsess over the size of their butts. Men don't try on ten different outfits before going out at night, and men don't care if their tummies look flat. If you want to condemn the people fixating on women's bodies condemn the women." Nelle asks Ling why she is helping with the case. She says she brought the client in, which will eventually lead to her making partner, and that will give her power, and the power will allow her to "put an end to the rampant chauvinism that goes on here." John tells her to "just go chew on it." "Chew on what?" Ling asks. Elaine comes in (wearing her face bra) with the list of orders taken overnight for her face bra. "800 orders. Early projections have it on par with the Vegematic. Only slightly less than the Spray-on Hair," she says. She also announces that a cable consumer show wants to interview her. "I'm going to be rich, rich, rich," Elaine says. Ling is still disturbed by what John said. She says to herself, "Chew on what?" As everyone leaves the meeting, John approaches Richard and tells him he needs a moment. Richard tells him to go ahead and take it. "I mean with you," John says. He asks Richard if he has noticed the change. Richard hasn't, but John explains to him that since his birthday he's become a little bolder and a little more "predisposed to gather the rosebuds." John says he is feeling a reconnection with Nelle, but he doesn't think she's noticed the change. He wonders if he should try the knee pit maneuver. Richard says if he does, Nelle will certainly notice the change.

Two women exit the elevator and approach Elaine. She is surprised to see that one of them is her Aunt Gladys. Elaine is happy to see her, but her aunt is obviously not thrilled to be there. She hands her a summons. The other woman with her is an attorney, and they are suing her for stealing the face bra idea from her cousin, Aunt Gladys' daughter, Martha. Gladys says that Martha, who died in a car accident two years ago, invented the face bra. Ally comes up and takes the summons, tells Elaine not to talk, and says she will read the complaint and talk to the lawyer about it.

The woman suing the owner of the software company is on the stand. She explains that, as an employee of the company, she finds the policy of "Beach Day" demeaning. She says she shouldn't have to look at half-naked men and women while she's trying to do her work. Her attorney asks if she was required to wear a bathing suit on "Beach Day." She admits that she wasn't, but says that when everyone else does, it draws attention to the fact that she didn't. Billy gets his turn and asks whether this opportunity to wear swimsuits to the office applied to men and women alike. She says yes, that it was for men and women, but adds "that does not make it alike." Billy asks, "How's it different?" She answers, "Because it is."

Elaine, Richard, Georgia and Ally are in Ally's office. Ally says that she has agreed with Elaine's aunt's lawyer to expedite the depositions and her aunt has agreed to go first. Georgia wants to know if there is anything they should know before the depositions start. "Like what?" Elaine asks. "Like, did you rip off your cousin?" Richard says. Elaine says the face bra was her idea, but she did tell Martha about it. Ally asks if Elaine and Martha were close and Elaine says she thought they were. Ally says they will do a quick patent search. Elaine wants to know whether she should do her cable interview and Ally suggests she put that on hold.

John approaches Nelle in the inner-office. He asks how it's going. She says everything is fine. He makes small talk until Nelle asks if he wants something. He says no then purposely drops his pen. He picks it up and while in that position, reaches over and touches Nelle's knee pit. She is surprised by the move and falls backwards, over his back, hitting him in the eye with her shoe in the process. "What the hell was that?" she asks. "Were you trying to get me off with that stupid knee pit thing?" Covering his eye with his hand, he gets up, apologizes, and walks away.

John is sprawled out on the couch in Ally's office, an ice pack on his eye. He's telling Ally how he ended up hurt. Ally starts talking about herself and John says "Eight seconds." She asks what he's talking about. "I came in to talk about my problem and you managed to make it all about you in eight seconds," he says, adding, "Your record is six." Ally imagines herself giving him a good tongue-lashing. John wants to know if it's true that women want to be dominated. Ally says no. John says that Richard told him that when it comes to relationships, he should only listen to his southern compass. Ally doesn't think John should be relying on Richard for relationship advice, adding, "It's bad enough you are relying on me." John asks if she is okay and Ally says she misses him. John asks, "Billy?" Ally says, "Greg." John asks if Greg is seeing someone else. "He's just limited the field to 'not me'," says Ally. John reminds her that she's almost thirty. "Statistically," he says, "struck by lightening." He tells her it's time for her to make it happen.

The owner of the software company is on the stand explaining how when he went to school, they had "Bermuda Day" and everyone would wear shorts. He says everyone at work is always so serious, and he thought allowing them to wear bathing suits would make them more energized and more efficient. The attorney for the plaintiff asks the owner several questions as women and men enter the courtroom wearing swimsuits. They take seats with all the other spectators. The members of the jury just stare at all the people in swimsuits and the judge has to strike the gavel in order to get their attention.

Ally, Georgia and Elaine are in the conference room with Aunt Gladys and her attorney. The aunt is being deposed. She says that Martha talked to them about the face bra idea and that right before she died she was talking about doing an infomercial. Ally asks if they have any evidence to prove Martha was the one who invented the face bra. They give Ally the patent application and sketches that she did.

Back in Ally's office, Georgia asks Elaine if she stole the idea. She says she didn't. Gladys' attorney apparently has seven witnesses, people Martha told about the idea. Elaine says she is the one who got the patent, and that Martha was not a very truthful person. They ask her if she has any documentation that goes back more than three years ago. She says she was always afraid someone would steal the idea. Elaine says she will not settle. "This is not about me having a pathetic life, either," she says. She reiterates that the face bra is her invention. Ally says they have another cousin of Elaine's to depose so they will wait and see how that goes.

Elaine walks into the bathroom, opens a stall door, and before she can enter the stall, John tries to dismount from his isometrics and kicks her, forcing her into the stall and headfirst into the toilet. When she emerges, her hair soaked, she says, "This is unbelievable. Last night was the greatest night of my life, and today I go headfirst into a toilet." Nelle comes in as Elaine is leaving. John explains that he "knocked her into a fresh bowl." Nelle tells him that he's been causing all sorts of excitement. She thinks he is trying to pave the road ahead. "A road you have no intention of taking," she says. John says, "Let's go out." Nelle says if they are going out together, they are not going to the bar. He stutters a bit then tells her that is fine. She says they need to leave the building, and she will pick the place.

A woman who works at the software company is on the stand. She says that when she first started working there, she felt that on "Beach Day" she should wear a bathing suit. She admits that because she was new, she felt pressure to wear the suit. She says that now, since she's been there longer, she feels less need to conform. Billy asks her if she has any reason now to doubt that the owner was holding "Beach Day" for any reason other than to have a little office fun and spirit. She says no.

Ally and Renee are at lunch. Ally says that maybe women are the weaker sex because society tells women to be weak. As she talks, she keeps gesturing with her fork, which has a piece of lettuce on it. "We have to sit back and wait to be asked out wait to be called," she says, as the piece of lettuce goes flying off her fork and lands on Renee's forehead. Ally apologizes. "This must be about Greg again," Renee says. She asks Ally how many times she has called him. Ally says, "A few." Then she admits she's actually called him eleven times. Ally says the problem is there are no good men. She says she read an article that said that on average, there are only two per state. She sadly says that she had one of them and she let him get away.

The last cousin scheduled to be deposed is in the conference room with the attorney, Ally, Elaine and Georgia. She tells them that Martha told her about the face bra the day before her accident. She adds that Martha was afraid Elaine would steal the idea. The cousin tells them that Elaine was always desperate to be noticed in high school and that none of the cousins would ever want to bring their boyfriends around her because they were afraid she would try and steal them. The cousin looks at Elaine and tells her, "This is wrong what you are doing." Elaine calmly gets up and leaves the room.

Richard and John are in Richard's office. Richard is playing with binoculars. John is nervous about where Nelle might decide for them to go on their date. Richard says, "Maybe she'll take you to Poughkeepsie?" John wants Richard and Ling to come along on his date with Nelle. "Don't ask me why," John says, "You bring me comfort." They both take a pair of binoculars and look out at the building across the way.

Ally and Georgia are in Ally's office. Georgia says that they have to convince Elaine to settle. Ally stands firm. She says Elaine is not a liar and she wouldn't steal. Elaine comes in to give Ally some documents. They ask her how she is doing. She says fine. Ally says Elaine's deposition is scheduled for tomorrow. Elaine, struggling to figure out why Martha would do this, tells them that three years ago she had to throw Martha a birthday party because no one else would do it, and then, no one would come. This triggers something in her memory. She is very excited and she quickly leaves.

The attorney for the plaintiff gives his closing. He says that she shouldn't have to be put in the position of declining to wear a bathing suit on "Beach Day." Billy, in his closing, says that the owner was only trying to generate a little fun. Once a month, he brought in fake palm trees, sand and non-alcoholic Pina Coladas. Billy asks, "Aren't we all just taking things a little too seriously here?"

Elaine brings in a video to show Ally and Georgia. It's a video she made of Martha's birthday party that no one came to. We first see Elaine singing a birthday song to Martha, then she fast-forwards the tape to the part she wants them to see. She tells Martha to make a wish and blow out the candles on the cake. Martha leans down to blow out the candles and Elaine blows them out, too. Elaine tells Martha that she, too, made a wish. "What was it?" asks Martha. "That my face bra becomes a big hit," Elaine says. "That I become rich and famous and men start lining up to sleep with me." Martha says, "What is this face bra you keep talking about?" Ally wants to know why she hasn't told them about this before and Elaine says she forgot about it. She looks at Georgia and asks, sarcastically, "Do you still think we should settle?" Georgia says she never actually said Elaine was lying. "But you believed it," Elaine says, "Right down to your brown roots."

Nelle takes John, Ling and Richard to a rap club. Some guys tell John that his daughter is "fly." Richard pays two women $100 for their sunglasses. He gives a pair to John and tells him to put them on "so you don't look like Nelle's father." John and Richard go to the front of the club by the bank and start dancing, strangely. Ling thinks they are going to be asked to leave but everybody enjoys watching the guys dance.

John and Nelle are walking home. John thinks he may have pulled something. He asks why she took him to that club and wonders if it was a test to see if he could handle it. She says maybe. He asks if he passed. She says yes, he did. He leans over and kisses her, then takes her hand and they walk on down the street together. We see that Ally is standing on the other side of the street, watching them.

At home, she tells Renee about what she saw. "Were you following them?" Renee asks. Ally says no -- that she was walking home, alone, again. Renee wonders this is bothering Ally. She says that she is happy for them. "It's just," she starts, "couplehood is good. And maybe we should stop waiting for the right guy and go out with the wrong ones. It probably beats loneliness." Renee says there is nothing lonelier than being with the wrong guy. Ally starts thinking about how John got with Nelle by changing his attitude. Ally decides she's going to change her attitude, too.

The next morning, she confidently walks out of her apartment and strides to work. Men watch her walk by.

Nelle goes to the unisex looking for John. She finds him in a stall and asks if she can talk to him when he gets a second. He says he's coming out now and asks her to stand back. She does and he does an almost perfect dismount. Nelle asks if he has plans for tonight. When he says no, she says, "I thought maybe I'd cook. Can I make you dinner?" He says, "Sure."

In the conference room, Aunt Gladys and her attorney are watching the video. Ally stops it and says, "That was the fourth time. Do you want to see it a fifth?" Aunt Gladys feels awful and apologizes over and over again to Elaine. She's also crushed by the fact that her daughter lied to her. Aunt Gladys and her attorney leave. Elaine sadly says, "I guess this is victory, huh?" "You just learned the first negative thing about success," Ally says, "People come out of the woodwork." Georgia apologizes for not believing Elaine. "I didn't conclude you were lying, but I wondered," Georgia says. Elaine says she has to go and get ready for her cable interview.

As they wait for the verdict, the plaintiff comes up to talk to Billy. She says that she could tell from his closing that he really believed what he said. "You really don't get it," she says. "Men aren't judged by their bodies, women are. If you don't know that, then you just don't get it."

John is in Richard's office with him. John says it's just dinner. "When a woman invites you to her place to cook for you," Richard says, "that's the big meal ticket. Bring your snorkel." Ally comes in. Richard asks her what it means when a woman invites a man over to her place to cook for him. "She wants to sleep with him," Ally says, "Why?" John says that Nelle invited him over. Ally wonders how he feels about that. He says it doesn't trouble him. "But last time," Ally starts. John says it wasn't right last time, but now, he really likes Nelle. He asks Ally what kind of message she leaves when she calls Greg. She says that all she says is that it's her calling. John thinks she should tell him that she misses him, and he also thinks she should do it in person.

The jury comes back and Cage/Fish & Associates wins again. The defendant and Billy are surprised they won. "We never lose," Ling says, "that's why we charge a lot."

Billy, Georgia, Ally, Richard and Ling have gathered at the office to watch Elaine's cable interview. "We're very excited," Elaine tells the reporter. "Of course, it's still very early, but there does seem to be a market. People want to save their faces." The reporter asks what the guys around the office are saying about her sudden success. "Elaine's smile fades, but only for a moment. "Well, they're happy for me, of course," she says. "I have a great core of people who are cheering for me." Georgia feels bad, knowing that she is probably responsible for Elaine having to think about her answer to the question.

John knocks on Nelle's door. She is dressed casually, as is he. He apologizes for being late says he stopped to get some wine. He hands her the bottle and she says she was afraid he had changed his mind and gotten afraid. He asks, "Of what?" She says most men think that if a woman invites a man over for dinner, she just wants to sleep with him. "So, that's not the case here?" John asks. "Did you want it to be the case?" Nelle asks. "Maybe I did," John says. Nelle tells him, "At a minimum, you're going to have to eat first. I've been slaving over this damn stove." He says okay, and they kiss.

Ally gets out of a cab and looks across the street. She's at the hospital, and when she sees Greg, she sees that he's not alone. He's with a very beautiful woman and they are holding hands and kissing. She walks away.

Nelle and John slowly take each other's clothes off and make love.

Ally goes home. Saying nothing, she sits next to Renee, who spoon-feeds her ice cream.


BITS AND PIECES:

So we get two very familiar faces in this episode. The defendant in the bathing suit case (Michael Gross) was the father on "Family Ties," and the attorney in Elaine's case (Mary McDonough) was 'Erin' on "The Waltons."

In the first season when Ally fell into a toilet, I had many people write to me confused. They thought she had fallen in head-first. When Elaine fell in tonight, my first thought was, "Is David Kelley intercepting my e-mail?"

I haven't really decided exactly how I feel about this episode. Parts of it I definitely liked. I wasn't so sure that I wanted John and Nelle to try a relationship again, but I was swept away by the looks they gave each other. I even enjoyed Elaine's story line. But I was not thrilled with the bathing suit case. Not only was it boring for me, but I saw no reason for Ling to be there. She was completely wasted during this episode, except for during the meeting, where she delivered one of my.....

Favorite Lines:

Ling (when asked why she doesn't object to the case): "Because I brought the client in, which will eventually contribute to me making partner, which translates to power, which once I have, I can put an end to the rampant chauvinism that goes on here."

Ally: "There are no good men. I read this article, and on average, there are two -- per state."

(Additions to 'Bits and Pieces' Tuesday morning): I knew she sounded familiar! Thanks to my friend Patti, I can finally put the 'bra-faced' woman together with the voice. One of the women in Elaine's infomercial was Holland Taylor, who plays a judge on Kelley's "The Practice." Fans of that show know her as the judge who tried to seduce Bobby and has successfully seduced Jimmy.

I also had several people write to ask me if I think Ally is really in love with John. Personally, I don't think so. I think she is in love with the idea of being in love, and when she sees other people who might be in love, she is jealous that they have something she doesn't. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but just in case, Ally needs to learn to be happy alone before she can be happy with someone else. No matter what, having a man in your life, even the most wonderful man in the world, doesn't make the rest of your life perfect. Ally should take some lessons from Calista, who, even though she has to deal with the press she gets about boyfriends and weight and all that other crap, seems to be a pretty happy and content single woman.

Copyright © 1999 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.